The previous section on the wer-disease itself intends to present a more or less coherent, beginning-to-end approach as to what causes vampirism. This section is a hit-or-miss hodge-podge of questions and answers concerning the nature of vampires (and other wer-animals), especially focused on where some of those bizarre ideas came from. As the old saying goes, 'Scratch a myth, find a truth.'

This is basically an FAQ section. Feel free to email serious questions to my contact page.

1. Does everybody who is bitten by a vampire turn into a vampire?
No. No. No. Just think about it for a minute. In the movies every vampire seems to kill at least once a night. If all his victims were to become vampires, he would make 365 new vampires a year, and each of them would, too. In one year, he would have 66,430 vampire offspring. In just over two years the entire human race would be vampires. It is very hard to become a full-fledged vampire. The disease is not (or is very seldom) passed by the bite, by saliva. Blood from the vampire has to be introduced into a wound in the intended 'newbie'. Then the newbie has to survive the coma (maybe one in ten does so without guidance). Then he has to live through the 'change', which is very difficult without a master guiding him day and night (masters are reluctant to be so tied down). Then he has to learn to tailor the change to his human body mass and notably to his brain. The end result is that vampires, especially (because of the mis-match of the body mass of human to bat) are rare. There are more werewolves and wer-jaguars, but, withal, they too are rare and well-hidden.

Saragoosa vampire bat Saragossa vampire bats Saragossa vampire bats
One vampire today One week later One month later

2. Are vampires 'supernatural' or 'living-dead'? Where do these notions come from?
Nope. Just as natural as you or I, and no more dead than anybody else. I really, really wonder what 'living-dead' means? And I wonder about the infamous question, 'How do you kill something that is already dead?' If you separate the limbs, is 'it' still alive? How about each cell? How about taking the cells apart? Well, as far as I know, I don't need to give myself a headache thinking about this, because neither I nor anybody I know (mortal or immortal) knows anything about any living-dead. I hate 'zombie' movies.
Surviving and reviving from the death-like rabies coma (imagine seeing a dead neighbor digging himself out of his grave) is the seed of the 'living-dead' notion concerning vampires. For though the bat itself is immune to rabies symptoms, including the coma, the newly infected human isn't. Not until he's survived the coma and successfully become part bat does he gain the bat's immunity – and even then in varying degree depending on many factors, such as the completeness of the invading genome and the virulence of the infection.

3. Why can't vampires go out in the sun?
This is only true for vampires of the line of Quetzalcoatl – which means most vampires. They inherited a phototoxicity disease from him – perhaps erythropoietic porphyria in an extreme form. In the vampire, it appears to be exaggerated by an adverse interaction with the Wepvirus. Exposure to the sun can be fatal, but does not result in the vampire catching on fire or exploding. The disease also causes the teeth and the whites of the eyes to be stained red from blood cells. The ears and nose can decompose and literally fall off.

4. What about garlic? Is it true vampires can't stand garlic?
Garlic exudes dialkyl disulfide. It aggravates the phototoxicity, at least the version that Quetzalcoatl suffered. But the whole reaction is greatly overwrought in movies. Even vampires from Quetz's line can eat garlic – they just cannot go out in the sun afterwards (which they likely would not be able to do anyway).

5. How about fear of crosses? Isn't that superstition? How could there be a physical connection?
This is mostly pure superstition. The European peasant vampires were locked into their own mysticism. Without realizing the disease predated Christianity, they became psycho-somatic victims of their own religious beliefs, and would flee crosses out of sheer ignorance. But it wasn't entirely superstition. In Europe, Medieval churches usually had at least one large cross made of silver. Silver also aggravates Quetzalcoatl's porphyria, sometimes severely. Garden variety vampires (that cannot shape shift) can normally go out into the sun, since the vampire genome is mostly dormant. But even they can find the sun's rays to be biting after eating garlic or somehow getting silver into their bodies. Getting smashed with a heavy silver cross can be fatal. So vampires – weak, stupid, degenerate vampires – used to avoid crosses. Of course silver bullets are even more effective. The cross issue is irrelevant to master vampires.

6. What about no reflection in mirrors? Or not throwing a shadow?
Mirrors used to be coated with silver. A silvered shard from a broken mirror made a deadly weapon, the same as a heavy silver cross. So vampires avoided mirrors. If you never go near a mirror, your reflection won't show up in one. Of course mirrors were rarer in previous ages. Now they're too common to avoid. And they're not coated with silver. Nowadays vampires throw reflections – and shadows, too.

7. How about the notion of killing werewolves with silver bullets?
It is not werewolves, but vampires that dread silver bullets. (See the answer just above.) Werewolves don't have the photoxicity disease. But the superstitions have confused werewolves with vampires. Regardless, bullets, silver or lead, will neatly dispatch a werewolf if you actually succeed in shooting him in the heart or head.

8. How about regular bullets? If they're not supernatural creatures, why don't bullets hurt them?

Annie Oakley shooting a vampire
Annie Oakley shooting a vampire visible in a mirror
A lead bullet to the brain will nicely kill a vampire. But a master vampire is not easily shot. He can't dodge bullets, but he can read minds, and he has extremely fast reactions. If you try to shoot a master vampire, he'll likely be evading the bullet before you finish pulling the trigger. On the off chance you do hit him, if you don't kill him outright, he heals very quickly. If you're going to try to shoot a master, you'd better use an AK-47 and pray for luck.


9. Do vampires heal instantaneously?
They heal very fast – a master can heal something like ten times as fast as a mortal. But this is still nothing like the film versions where the holes from a strafing of machine gun bullets disappear before your very eyes. Especially ridiculous are scenes where werewolves or vampires extrude bullets from their heads. If you pulverize a vampire's brains, he is down for the count.

10. Do vampires have cold skin?
Many bats are essentially cold-blooded at rest. The bodies of human vampires do cool down if their bat genome is dominant. They can feel unpleasantly cold, like a dead body, until they've been moving about for a while. If you come upon them during slumber, they are sluggish and some can't readily awaken. But at need they can arouse even during the day.

11. How about sleeping in a coffin? Or in their native earth?
Sleeping in a coffin is mostly bunk or affectation – at least nowadays. A few hundred years ago, coffins were probably the best sun-proof containers readily obtainable. They were tight and snug, offered some protection against intruders and were great for keeping out the daylight. In any case, any light-proof box designed to hold a human-size body is going to look like a coffin. The native earth mumbo-jumbo is just bunk that grew out of the sleeping in a coffin myth.

12. How about fear of holy water?
The overriding factor of what hurts a wer-animal arises from the wer-animal's ability to control his own body, which translates into a hyper-susceptibility to psycho-somatic effects. If a vampire really thinks something will hurt it, chances are it will – like the cross or holy water. Nobody is more superstitious than an untrained vampire or werewolf. They're caught up in changes they don't understand, and have nothing but millennia-old half-truths to inform them. Through credulity, the legends become binding. Some vampires will truly die if they get immersed with holy water or can't find a coffin to sleep in – simply because they so believe.

13. Do vampires in their human form have to survive only on blood?
No, vampires can eat anything a human can, and more. The blood thirst carries over from the bat genome, but blood is not a necessity at all.

14. Why has nobody ever found a vampire skeleton? – something with batlike bones or teeth?
Wer is altogether rare and great care is taken by survivors to destroy the remains of their dead. Furthermore, the change to animal can only take place because wer cells can de-differentiate, change back to stem cells from which they can re-differentiate to new cell types. (Eg. their cells can de-differentiate from skin cells to stem cells, and re--differentiate to muscle cells.) When the host dies, these cells do de-differentiate – in other words, when wer die, they melt. (The tooth cells, which would be preserved, de-differentiate to stem cells, which do not preserve. The extra calcium is dissolved by the acidic sludge left from de-differentiation. The vampire teeth are the weakest point in the skeleton, being made so quickly by the change. Trees that grow slowly are strong. Those that grow quickly are not as dense. Same principle with bones and teeth.) They don't burst into flames, but there are no telltale skeletal remains of cells that have morphed into animal parts. They turn into a body-sized puddle of cell slurry, which is great food for bacteria, and they quickly decompose.

15. What about superhuman strength?
Yes, that comes with time. An orangutan's arms look smaller than a man's arms, but contain the strength of several men. Vampire arms can be made vastly stronger either through conscious manipulation or even from simply letting the subconscious work on incremental improvements over decades and centuries. For instance lactic acid (which causes muscles to tire) can be leached off much more rapidly, resulting in fantastic endurance.

16. Are vampires solitary creatures?
The bat genes give them a herd instinct, but their rarity argues against this. Like vampire bats, wer-bats try to have at least one companion, and form strong social bonds by regurgitating blood to feed their companion. Their homes are often called nests or covens and usually house at least two vampires, which means a nest is really, really rare.

17. What else bleeds over from the vampire bat's habits into the werbat's human life?
There is one piece of vampirology that didn't make the legends and that embarrasses vampires greatly. As a vampire bat drinks blood, it urinates. This is because his body is so tiny, that the blood he's ingested adds significantly to his weight, and he cannot readily fly. He has to offset the increased weight by getting rid of water from his body; so, he urinates (ridding himself of the liquid part of the blood he is consuming). New human vampires cannot resist the urge to urinate immediately upon drinking anything. It can take years and many embarrassing social interactions to learn to quell that instinct, unless they live solitary lives, surviving solely on blood, and don't have to worry about social interaction.

18. What about the alleged inability to traverse running water?
This is a Draculan eccentricity that has been generalized (incorrectly) to all vampires. It arises from the simple fact that Dracula could not swim and developed a hatred of larger bodies of water, including large rivers. He especially dislikes the ocean, because he could drown in it, despite his might.

19. What about the necessity of an ash stake through the heart to kill a vampire?
If you put any kind of stake through a vampire's heart, it is very likely he will die. Also burning and beheading are completely efficacious. As are bullets, and ..... you just have to do a much more thorough job of it than with a mortal.

20. Can a vampire control his victim's mind?
Some can, depending on their own natural psychic gifts, their training and the years of practice they have put in. A very long life will give a lot of time to develop these gifts. It is these same gifts that make a witch or a magician magical. Many a vampire is also a witch or sorcerer.

In brief, wer does not bestow any magical abilities, but it gives time to develop whatever psychic forces might be the natural heritage of the person who turns wer. Also, with time he will develop great force of personality – a magnetic charisma based on allure or fear – which could well overwhelm a frightened victim.

21. Does a vampire have magic? Can he control the weather, call up mists, control animals?
Briefly, magic is simply extrasensory perception (ESP) along with applied will. With time, any human with natural gifts could develop these powers to some extent, and vampires have lots of time.

22. Why are vampires always extremely ugly or extremely attractive; either incapable of normal sex, or highly sexed. Is there a gay connection? Do normal people have no chance at all?
Vampires can, with time, greatly affect their appearance and will tend to either accent the frightfulness of their appearance, if they like to control through fear (not to mention – how beautiful would any human face be blended with bat features?) or emphasize their beauty, if they prefer to control through lust or allure. Probably many vampires who intend to make a wer-child, will choose him (or her) in part because they are natively beautiful, even before being enhanced. But the beauty they are attracted to might not be a physical beauty. Since that can be manufactured by a vampire, it is less important than mental or spiritual beauty, which cannot be created, or than magical gifts which will eventually result in a magnificent wer.

Like most other bodily functions, sexuality is under the control of the master vampire, who can either amplify it or turn it off. Also, the rabies virus often causes hypersexuality due to the increase in the sensitivity of the nervous system. But an oversensitization can also lead to a shutdown of sexuality.

Vampires are very likely to break out of society's sexual roles, since they automatically find themselves outside the social embrace. With time and experience comes liberation. A master vampire will almost surely laugh at such categories as 'heterosexual', 'homosexual', 'top', 'bottom', and even, 'male', 'female'. They are simply too fluid in their being and would feel stifled by any attempt by society to force them into a category.

At any rate, yes, there is a strong link between homosexuality and vampirism and magic, just as there is a strong link between homosexuality and certain artistic abilities. I suppose there is a genetic component to the magic and artistry and perhaps those factors get them chosen as good wer candidates. I can think of other mechanisms, but so can you.

Finally, since the question always gets asked, while the bat penis is very variable in size, compared to humans on a pro-rata basis – they are huge. There are not many revealing photos online, but there is at least one. Admittedly, this is a fruit bat – I couldn't find a photo of a vampire bat's privates. Again, a vampire (or any wer-animal) has a GREAT deal of control over all the parts of his body. Such a simple thing as size is a matter of esthetics.

23. What about immortality?
All wer-animals are (depending on the virulency of their infection) potentially very long-lived, but only vampires (werbats) are truly immortal because only their immune systems can co-habitate with the wer-virus without eventually destroying it.

24. What shapes can vampires shift to?
Most 'wer' cannot shape-shift at all (or maybe just a little in their facial features or hands). If they have a great deal of their totem animal's genome, and their infection is virulent, and they have been trained in accommodating the change, then they can take the form of their totem-animal (their wer-animal) or some stage in between. That is it. No mists, insects hordes or whatnot that Hollywood makes money off of. (Some nice special effects, though.)

25. What about bad breath?
Bad breath from drinking blood, living in unsanitary conditions and never using a toothbrush. Who wouldn't have bad breath under these conditions?

26. Do good people who become vampires turn evil?
Yes and no. All rabies instills a killing frenzy in animals (the reaction is somewhat different in humans, but the effect exists). Weprabies is the worst of all in this sense. It was specially bred for the killing response. But the fundamental nature of a person does not change – he just starts feeling killing instincts. Werewolves have the genetic heritage of wolves, which don't normally attack humans, but which will do so when cornered. Vampires also have the blood thirst. Garden variety wer-animals might become killers, just because such is the expectations of werewolves and vampires. In other words, they are informed only by the legends and have no other role models. The final answer is, 'The urges are there, but they can be overridden by the human will, especially with training.'

27. Where can I find a vampire?
I don't think you can. I hope you can't. They hope you can't – unless they want you to. There are some few master vampires spread around the world from Japan to India. In July, 1998, I was shown a house in St. Petersburg, Russia where, I was told, a vampire lives. Apparently that city is a traditional summer haven for the few vampires who are day walkers for the simple reason of the famous 'white nights'. That is, summer daylight lasts almost the entire twenty-four hours of each day. This means that Dracula and his servants are very unlikely to be there, and so the day walkers are relatively safe from being hunted down and eliminated. In 2004 in the city of Salvador, Brazil, my host pointed out a house where a vampire was living (but has since abandoned). I was actually in Brazil to learn about wer-jaguars, but the vampire 'detour' was a welcome plus. I think there are almost no vampires (or other wer) in Europe, especially not in Romania, that you would want to meet – that is, those who were there are either gone, eliminated or were brought into the service of Dracula. I know of no genuine vampire clubs, unless they are clubs inhabited by vampires not capable of the change.

Let me say clearly that in all of this what I know is not due to cleverness on my part, or indeed due to any special worthiness on my part as far as I know, but simply because it was my good fortune to have met Sandman, who had become an acquaintance of my father's because of a common professional (physics) interest of theirs. Thereafter, what limited entrée I have to that world is by his courtesy (and never at my whim). I have met his Colorado friends, Laura, Raphael, Jon, Niniane and Max (as I have styled them in the book Saragossa - The Vampire Legacy) and can call them my own friends by now, but with them, as with Sandman, I recognize myself a visitor with a revocable pass.

28. What is Sentience and what does it have to do with vampires?
See the whole section on Sentience/Potato Awareness. Saragossa, Niniane, Jon and Jon's mother Shirin all have this quality in abundance (I humbly lay claim to it, too). In some ways Sandman is more inscrutable to me than is Saragossa; he is an artist; he is an enigma; he is a master; he is, of course, a potato, but some special kind whose life is all wrapped up in art in a way that I cannot understand. Nonetheless, I think the answer is vampires choose their friends and kindred (since they, unlike humans, get to choose who will be their children) based on commonalities of interests, values and awareness. So it is natural that that whole bunch would be potatoes. Jon says that Laszlo is totally Sentient (but extremely disordered from seventy years of mental devastation). Dracula, Lorrigan and Radescu – probably not, but so unhuman as to defy categorization. Seth and Stefan – unknowns. In short, I cannot think of a useful generalization concerning vampires and sentience – not to mention werewolves, witches and so forth.

29. Do vampires (and werewolves etc) have souls?
If humans have souls, so do wer-animals. There neither is nor ever was any pact with the Devil (if such exists), wherein the soul is sold, nor does the human die in the process of becoming wer. So there is no opportunity nor mechanism for losing whatever metaphysical aspects (soul, spirit, ka) the human totality might comprise.

30. Can vampires endure the sun?
There are at least two vampire genealogical lines. A Quetz Vampire is one whose vampirism can ultimately be traced back to Quetzalcoatl. Such vampires all inherited his phototoxicity disease and, therefore, cannot endure the sun. This limitation applies to Dracula and his wer-children. (This fact is worthy of a 'hallelujah'.) The other line is called the day-walkers. These vampires do not have any phototoxicity disease and have no issues about walking around in the sunlight. I do not know the origin of this strain (or these strains). It is conceivable that the phototoxicity gene at some point was lost from a branch of the Quetz strain, or perhaps there was a master vampire other than Quetzalcoatl. (It seems unlikely that this would not be known by Sandman.) I assume that Saragossa (he and his are day-walkers) knows something about his own origin, but this is one of those subjects (like Those Who Wait) that he will not address.

31. Why aren't bats immortal?
The wepvirus (which is the only strain of rabies that can confer long life) was native to the area around Romania. Vampire bats are native to Meso-America. The two never met (except artificially). Only bats have rabies asymptomatically. Only vampires have weprabies asymptomatically. Bats are not immortal because they do not have weprabies. The very few (one guesses fewer than five) bats which were infected intentionally by Anubis were used as very small reservoirs of weprabies to infect humans. The amount of blood they possessed was so small that they were bled dry in the process of transferring their blood to the human acolytes. So, no vampire bat strain ever came into being with the weprabies.

32. What about the wepwolf – the wolf which carries the mutant strain of rabies – are they immortal?
Only the vampire bat has an immune system that does not combat rabies, and therefore confers immortality. The virus was 'bred' in the wepwolf over many generations. The immune system of that strain of wolves keeps weprabies in check – it has low virulency and does not confer an extreme lifespan. It is passed from wolf to wolf during fights (usually for pack leadership and mating rights), when the old wepwolf is challenged by a younger rival and both animals wound each other severely enough for their blood to mix. It is really only when the virus passes to a human that it becomes virulent. Then it is strong enough to repress apoptosis (cell suicide) and confer long life. If the virus is virulent, it can also be strong enough to activate the secondary genome brought in from the previous host (in this case the wolf genome). I believe that a similar situation regarding virulency, exists with other viruses which hop from animals to humans. For instance (I guess, but have not actually researched the question) swine flu is not terribly virulent in pigs, but when it transfers to humans, it finds their immune system ill equipped to resist, and the virus becomes extremely virulent.

33. Can a virus really paste pieces of the genome of one animal into another?
Yes, indeed. Here is a mention of the AIDS virus doing this (very poorly, but it is proof of the concept). Remember that the wepvirus was specifically designed to take this ability to the extreme. The following are extracts from:

SUNDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News)    Early roots of the virus that causes AIDS might be found in a tiger that lived thousands or millions of years ago, new research suggests.

It appears the virus took on a bit of a tiger's genetic material, scientists say, and a remnant of that cat remains in the virus to this day. That tiger, in fact, may have bitten a monkey, setting off an evolution of the virus that ultimately led to its infection of humans.

"It's a rare and unusual thing that the virus would actually pick up some of the machinery of the cell that it infected," said Bambara.

SOURCES: Robert Bambara, Ph.D., chair, department of biochemistry and biophysics, University of Rochester, N.Y.; Matthew E. Portnoy, Ph.D., program director, division of genetics and developmental biology, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.; Dec. 6, 2009, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, online

Last Updated: Dec. 07, 2009

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Next we begin the long history of the wer-animals beginning with Wepwawet, the first god in the Egyptian animal-god pantheon.